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Housing Element Update

The County of Sonoma is in the process of updating its General Plan Housing Element. Learn more about the process below.

On this page:

The draft Housing Element released by Permit Sonoma is the culmination of more than a year of public engagement. A Housing Advisory Committee comprising a wide variety of housing advocates, providers, and both for- and nonprofit developers advised staff on the housing element update. To deepen engagement with disadvantaged communities, the county partnered with community benefit organizations to hold focus groups with farmworkers, day laborers, people with disabilities, people with a lived experience of homelessness, and residents of color to ensure that their perspectives were represented in the draft. Permit Sonoma also hosted two public workshops and conducted surveys that drew more than 6,000 responses. The results of these efforts were reflected in the content of the draft Housing Element Update.

Draft Housing Element Update

Permit Sonoma has released a new draft with revisions to add updated data and analysis, to respond to public comments on affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH), and to address recent feedback provided by the CA Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on other local Housing Element drafts. This revised draft does not include changes to the Sites Inventory or the Appendices.

HCD continues to review our submission.

March HCD Revised Review Draft Housing Element (pdf)

March HCD Revised Review Draft Housing Element Technical Background Report (pdf)

Draft Environmental Impact Report

Permit Sonoma released the following draft Environmental Impact Report on the Draft Housing Element Update. Public comment was due by 5 PM on February 13, 2023.

You can also find physical copies of the above documents at the following locations:

  • Petaluma Regional Library
  • Guerneville Regional Library
  • Healdsburg Regional Library
  • Sonoma Valley Regional Library
  • Roseland Regional Library
  • Santa Rosa Central Library

Publication of the Draft EIR is a critical step toward housing element adoption and compliance with state mandates relating to the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). Following the close of the comment period, a Final EIR will be prepared with response to comments. Adoption of the Housing Element and certification of a Final EIR will occur at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors, following state approval of the draft Housing Element.

Written comments were received for 45 days until 5 PM on February 13, 2023.

What is a Housing Element?

The County of Sonoma is updating its housing element as required by State law. The upcoming update is known as the 6th cycle. This process is an opportunity for the County to examine all the policies, market conditions, and other forces that contribute to there being enough homes for everyone in the community, regardless of income. 

Under California law, the housing element is one of the seven mandated elements of the general plan and must be updated on a set schedule. A housing element is required by State law (“Housing Element law”) to establish policies and programs that will support the provision of an adequate housing supply for citizens of all income levels. 

What are the components of a housing element?

The housing element typically includes: 

  1. Housing Needs Assessment: Examine demographic, employment, and housing trends and conditions that affect the housing needs of the community.
  2. Evaluation of Past Performance: Review the prior housing element to measure progress in implementing policies and programs.
  3. Housing Sites Inventory: Identify locations of available sites for housing development or redevelopment to ensure that there is adequate capacity to address the Regional Housing Needs Allocation.
  4. Community Outreach and Engagement: Implement a robust community outreach and engagement program, with a particular focus on outreach to traditionally underrepresented groups.
  5. Constraints Analysis: Analyze and recommend remedies for existing and potential governmental and nongovernmental barriers to housing development.
  6. Policies and Programs: Establish policies and programs to fulfill the identified housing needs.

What happens if a jurisdiction does not adopt a housing element?

If a city or county does not comply with State law, it can be sued. In addition to facing significant fines, a court may limit local land use decision-making authority until the jurisdiction brings its housing element into compliance. Additionally, local governments may lose the right to deny certain projects. These and other consequences are established in state law; housing elements are subject to regulatory oversight by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. 

Housing Advisory Committee

Permit Sonoma's work on the Housing Element centers equity and the experiences of those who know housing in our communities best: residents, renters, builders, and non-profits.

Advisory Committee members met four times and advised staff, reviewed draft concepts, served as community ambassadors to help publicize public workshops, and participate in the planning effort. While the committee is not a decision-making body, members’ experiences related to housing need, constraints to housing development, and feasibility of policies and programs helped shape the Housing Element.

Housing Advisory Committee Membership

Role Name Affiliations
Renter Fred Allebach Sonoma Valley Housing Group
Developer or builder Bruce Shimizu LACO Associates,The Housing Company
Developer or builder (nonprofit) Lauren Fuhry MidPen Housing
Developer or builder (nonprofit) Rebecca Vazquez
Burbank Housing
Member with lived experience of homelessness Scott Braun Homeless Action Sonoma
Non-profit organization (1) Mary Eble Northbay Housing
Non-profit organization (2) Sarah Cardona Greenbelt Alliance
Non-profit organization (3) Margaret DeMatteo Legal Aid of Sonoma County
Faith-based community Diana Bell-Kerr First Congregational United Church of Christ
Agricultural community Guadalupe Flores Medina Bevill Vineyard Management
Farm labor Santino Garcia California Human Development
Community Member
Supervisorial District (1)
Joanne Brown Fish of Sonoma Valley, SVCAC
Community Member
Supervisorial District (2)
Dev Goetschius Housing Land Trust of Sonoma County
Community Member
Supervisorial District (3)
Evan Wiig Community Alliance with Family Farmers
Community Member
Supervisorial District (4)
John Cash Geyserville Planning Committee;
Geyserville Community Foundation
Community Member
Supervisorial District (5)
Renee Whitlock
Sonoma County Child Care Planning Council
At Large Rue Furch Sierra Club, Housing Advocacy Group
At Large Betzy Chavez Community Development Commission, Los Cien
At Large Crista Barnett Nelson Senior Advocacy Services
Planning Agency (observational) Belén Lopez-Grady Planning Commission

Previous Events

Previous Drafts

Permit Sonoma released the following draft 6th Cycle Housing Element of the Sonoma County General Plan for public comment that ended on Dec. 4, 2022: